Monday, March 29, 2010

Why I Don't Like "Once Save Always Saved" by C. Michael Patton

In his blog "Parchment and the Pen" C. Michael Patton provides a thought provoking story about the misunderstanding of the doctrine of eternal security. In his article he describes an unusual race. We can do people more harm than good in their growing faith if we don't follow through completely in discipling new believers so that they know that they are saved. Read the whole blog by clicking here.

“In a town of ultimate boredom called Mundane, there was a great announcement. It was the announcement of a race. A great race that all could enter. A race that would rescue them from boredom. Most people did not believe that such an event would be held in Mundane so they scoffed. Others immediately prepared with great enthusiasm and joy.

Both the scoffers and the enthusiasts arrived at the appointed place on the day of the race. The scoffers sat and watched while the others prepared to run by stretching and making sure their shoes were tied. They lined up looking ahead with the intensity, fear, and excitement that accompanied such an event.

The gun sounded and off they went. Yet something very curious and unexplainable happened. They all stopped running after they had passed the starting line. Not only this, but they acted very peculiar. One person fell on his knees crying, thanking God that he crossed the starting line. Others gave each other high fives and hugs shouting, “Hooray, we are now race runners, we are now race runners.” Some shook hands and congratulated each other. One group relaxed and complemented one another on how well they crossed the starting line. Five or six others all gathered together and formed a prayer circle. They prayed that others would cross the starting line as they had.

Many others wanted to experience this joy so they decided to start the race as well. They were immediately stopped by the well-wishers who had started before them. They decided to stay as well. After a few days, there were people handing out pamphlets along with a certificate to all those who crossed the starting line. The pamphlet told them that once they had started the race they were guaranteed to finish. The certificate was to recognize their achievement in finishing the race even before they finished. It became very high on the agenda of all the race runners to make sure that people who had started knew of their assurance of completion. So much so that there was a printing press built right at the starting gate which produced millions of the pamphlets.

After a few months, there were so many who had crossed the starting line that they decided to build a town right there. They called this town “Starting Line Village.”

The spectators were confused. “I thought a race had to be finished,” they said to one another. They interviewed the people of Starting Line Village. “Why did you start the race and not continue?” they would ask. This made the people of Starting Line Village very uncomfortable. They would immediately show their certificate saying that they were guaranteed to finish. When people would encourage them to run the rest of the race, they would be ridiculed for not trusting the pamphlet. They were called legalists and were accused of trusting too much in their own ability to finish the race rather than the words on the pamphlet.

Please visit Parchment and Pen for C. Michael Patton's article and more on this parable.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Take Words With You"

Free little book on scriptural promises available. This little book is a neat little guide for your prayer life.

If you struggle to find the words when you pray try this little book to give you some ideas.
Visit the link above where you can find more about the book and down load a copy of it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Church matters

For a man to argue, "I do not go to church; I pray alone," is no wiser than if he should say, "I have no use for symphonies; I believe only in solo music."

George A. Buttrick

Friday, March 19, 2010

PSALM 12 - Mike T.

Psa 12:1-8 ESV

(1) To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. Save, O LORD, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. There are times when those who love God and want to be faithful to him really do feel alone.
(2) Everyone utters lies (empty words/ insincere words/ irresponsibile words )to his neighbor; The times are so bad that everyone’s words can no longer be trusted. There is no integrity with flattering lips They flatter/words with false motives and pretenses and a double heart they speak. Literally ‘they speak with a heart and a heart’ a Hebrew way of saying they talk out of both sides of their mouth.
(3) May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that makes great boasts, They boast.
(4) those who say, "With our tongue we will prevail, the philosophy that winning justifies deceit our lips are with us; the idea that they have the right to say anything they please who is master over us?" A denial of any higher standard or accountability

(5) "Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise," says the LORD; "I will place him in the safety for which he longs." The Lord will not allow justice to be perverted forever. In spite of the boasts of the wicked there is a higher standard and accountability
(6) The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. "The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat." – Charles Spurgeon The Biblical standards reflect the words of God, not man and are proven to be trustworthy.

(7) You, O LORD, will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever. God’s Word ensures that He will keep his own.
(8) On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man. The wicked are still freely strutting about. Lying, flattery, deceit and boasting have not ceased. 'vileness is exalted' see Rom 1:21-31. What has changed is the Psalmist. He has heard God’s answer that regardless of what others do, he can rely on the word of the reliable God.


I continue to read James Boice's commentary on Psalms. Tonight I looked at Psalm 12. Above are my notes based upon Boice's exposition. This Psalm is how one might pray when reading through Romans chapter 1. Lord help us to trust your unfailing, pure, reliable and Holy Word. When those around us deny that they are accountable to you remind us that your Word speaks for you and all people whether they acknowledge you in their speech or their actions will one day be held to your righteous standards. Help us to turn to Christ our saviour who on account of His perfect obedience has made us righteous in your sight. Praise God the defender of the needy and the oppressed, who guard generations forever. Help us to glorify you in our own words and deeds. Wash us clean from the filth that pollutes our lives and make us Holy to serve and honor you in this fallen and depraved world. Thank you for your grace. AMEN.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Random Notes of the Day

Continue to pray for Christians in Nigeria where a masacre left 100's dead.

Finished a pretty good book called "The Cross Gardener" by Jason F. Wright. I couldn't put it down. Just a nice work of fiction that stirs up some emotions and thoughts about the process of healing after losing a loved one.

Reading through the Psalms and accessing some commentaries along the way such as James Montgomery Boice's volume one on Psalms. I currently finished Psalm 8 last night. I can't fathom how so many can look at the creation around them and not come to give glory to God. He placed us here as stewards over a most wonderful and amazing creation. In the grand scheme of creation we received a special honor of authority over the beasts of this world. And in it all we are purposed to praise and glorify our creator. How insignificant I feel in relation to the one who placed the stars in the sky with His fingertips. So no, I am not shaken by stories of fossil records of apelike ancestors or rocks that are carbon dated to be eons old. Suns don't expel light and heat and exert gravity and planets don't revolve in perfect synchronization by random cosmic forces. Cells don't develop self sustaining production mechanisms from lifeless inorganic materials. No one can conceive a rational thought just because some chemicals arranged themselves in such a way as to store, process, and retrieve information. And what of emotions, feelings, love, art and creativity? Are they the mere consequence of a sporadic evolutionary process that simply benefited the selection process? I find such ideas absurd and evidence of blindness. Science that denies the existence of God will one day be found to be based upon false theories and incomplete understanding of the facts. The scientist who accepts random chaotic processes can create a complex organized universe will one day find that they might as well been trying to play an impossible game of Concentration. A small piece of a large puzzle is revealed in that game and one has to guess based upon the revealed clues what is behind the blocks that hide the rest. The scientist will find out that he only had a couple of microscopic glimpses of a bigger picture that spanned infinitely in all directions. When the puzzle is finally revealed he will find out that what he thought was the jawbone of an ancient ancestor of man was actually the posterior of something else. I accept the Psalmist's assertion that 1) A majestic God created all things. 2) God created and placed mankind purposely in this creation and established him on earth in the highest position below his creator, a place of special significance and benefit and responsibility. 3) There is an established order and hierarchy and man ranks subbordinate to God and subject to Him. 4) Man can only be amazed that God granted him this place in this marvelous and most beautiful world. Why God loved us and bestowed this world to us is an obvious question. It made the Pslamist break out in praise. What else can the wise do? In the end I believe that the truth will be shown that there is truly a God and all will say how majestic is His name!

Psalm 8- Mike T.

Psa 8:1-9 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
(2) Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
(3) When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
(4) what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
(5) Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
(6) You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
(7) all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
(8) the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
(9) O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Sometimes I am astonished that anyone can look around at creation and resolve that there is an another explanation besides God. Psalm 8 describes man's rightful place in the universe as a creature, beautifully made in God's image.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Don't ask about our meetings

The following post by Tim Chester makes a good point...

For many Christians church is an event. It is a meeting you attend or a place you enter. Churches may talk about being a family, but most of their resources go into the Sunday morning event. Acquiring a building. Preparing the sermon. Producing the bulletin. Equipping a venue with sound and light. Planning the show. Practicing the band. That’s were their money and their staff time go. We talk about being family and community, but when you look at how we spend our time and money it becomes clear that in practice we view church as an event.

People often ask me about our meetings. ‘When do you meet? Where? What do you do when you meet together?’ But if you ask those questions then you have completely missed the point! We’re not advocating a new way of doing meetings. Actually our meetings are not good! The music is poor and the teaching is nothing you’d go out of your way to hear. What matters to us is our shared life: sharing our lives, doing ordinary life with gospel intentionality.

The church will never out perform TV shows and music videos. But there is nothing like the community life of the church. There is nowhere else where diverse people come together. There is nowhere else were broken people find a home. There is nowhere else when grace is experienced. There is nowhere else where God is present by his Spirit.

Read the original link

Community and exhortation - Tim Chester

This is a pretty good post on Church discipline by Tim Chester.
We need to think of church discipline not simply as a final act of excommunication, but as a lifestyle of discipleship.
If I’m moaning, I need someone to challenge me to find joy in Christ. If I’m anxious, I need someone to exhort me to trust in my heavenly Father’s care. If I’m ashamed, I need someone to comfort me with the grace of God. It might be a leader; it might be a new Christian. It might be in a scheduled meeting; it might be as we tend someone’s garden together.

Click here to read the whole post.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Evening Prayer - Mike T.

Psa 4:1-8 ESV
(1) To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
(2) O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah
(3) But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.
(4) Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
(5) Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.
(6) There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"
(7) You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
(8) In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

There is obvious real distress that has caused David to turn to God in prayer. This seems to be likely due to men of influence who press some false accusation, some effort to call into question David’s character. He recognizes that relief comes from God. He comes asking God to be gracious. This is a humble and expectant hope that God will hear and answer his prayer like He has done in the past. He recognizes that before God he is a sinner in need of mercy. It is almost as David turns to prayer before God that he speaks to his enemies, to call out to them that they would know what David knows. The believer knows that the Lord sets apart the godly for himself. He can rest confidently and securely knowing that God having called him will not abandon him. There is a two fold understanding of God’s righteousness that David acknowledges. One is that the godly are secure and protected and can rely upon their God while the ungodly and their plans will surely be defeated. God is just and righteous. He will always prevail against His enemies and uphold the righteous who are His own. This promotes peace and confidence for the believer’s heart. But it also causes the believer to desire to call the unrighteous toward repentance. We must pray for our enemies and desire that they would too acknowledge the righteous God. David tells them to stand in awe (tremble) before God and do not sin. Those who do not know God find such a statement absurd. They fill their days seeking their own pleasure and the destruction of others. They deny the existence and/or the authority of God to call them to righteousness. If they would tremble before His might they might be silent and see that their hearts are opposed to God’s rule and authority. While preoccupied with sin and pursuit of their own passions they drown out the voice that would allow them to stop and listen to the one who made them. It is a restless journey and the one on it does not want to slow down or quiet the sounds which hide the soul from the heart. To stop is to face God who they rebel against. If they face this God who instills fear they must stop moving away from Him. That noise and activity that drowns out the heart must be quieted in order to lay bare the sin that hides within. All men are in need of reckoning of their sin, to be silent and stop and ponder. A failure to be still and be quiet is one way many avoid coming to repentance. If the mind is busy and the soul is never quiet the sounds of the heart are drowned out by the incessant noise. One must take time to make silent the noises and distractions of the day and to let the pour soul speak to your heart before you seal its fate for all eternity.
When the soul is quiet and the heart is laid bare then the ways of the past are exposed and can be replaced with a desire to be made right with God once more. In David’s time the sinner sought atonement via sacrifice, a picture of salvation to come in Christ. The believer today relies upon the atonement provided by Jesus on the cross. Then there is joy, peace, security for the soul. Enemies are no longer a threat for those who serve a righteous God. He has rescued us from the greatest enemy that of our own sin. He has bought and redeemed us with His blood. We trust in a mighty God and Savior. David desired that his enemies would turn to God and trust in Him that they would know the joy and peace and security that bless the godly and that they would bring glory to God. We can go to bed tonight confident that the things that trouble us can be given to God, that He will deal with the unrighteous and uphold the godly. Yesterday and tomorrow are in His hands.

“Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress'd?
Speaks hot conscience in thine ear?
Can this world afford thee bliss?
Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flattering, false, and vain it is;
Tremble at the worldling's doom!
Think, O sinner, on thy end,
See the judgment-day appear,
Thither must thy spirit wend,
There thy righteous sentence hear.
Wretched, ruin'd, helpless soul,
To a Saviour's blood apply;
He alone can make thee whole,
Fly to Jesus, sinner, fly!”

Monday, March 8, 2010

Psalm 3

BuzzardBlog posting on Psalm 3

Psalm 3 Post

Grace Unmeasured, Bob Kauflin

Grace unmeasured, vast and free
That knew me from eternity
That called me out before my birth
To bring you glory on this earth
Grace amazing, pure and deep
That saw me in my misery
That took my curse and owned my blame
So I could bear your matchless Name

Grace, grace, grace, paid for my sins
And brought me to life
Grace, grace, grace, clothes me with power
To do what is right
Grace, grace, grace will lead me to heav’n
Where I’ll see your face
And never cease to thank you for your grace

Grace abounding, strong and true
That makes me long to be like you
That turns me from my selfish pride
To love the cross on which you died
Grace unending all my days
You give me strength to run this race
And when my years on earth are through
The praise will all belong to you

Please Pray for Christians In Nigeria

In our relatively easy and prosperous lives we often have a warped perspective of what hardship is. Hundreds of Christian brothers and sisters around the world suffer persecution and even death for their faith. Please take some time to get familiar with the plight of those in Nigeria who are being killed for their faith. Over 500 were killed in violence aimed directly at those of Christian faith were attacked, many of whom were women and children. Reports indicated that women and children were caught in animal traps and nets and hacked to death with machetes.

The death toll was initially put at a little over 100 but then shot up. The information ministry said pregnant women were among those killed and around 200 people were being treated in hospital.

"We have over 500 killed in three villages and the survivors are busy burying their dead," said state information commissioner Gregory Yenlong.

"People were attacked with axes, daggers and cutlasses -- many of them children, the aged and pregnant women."

Survivors wail as children, women buried in Nigeria

Much of the violence was centred around the village of Dogo Nahawa, where gangs set fire to straw-thatched mud huts as they went on their rampage.

Read more

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thabiti on community

Thabiti Anyabwile, from his post, The Redundancy of “Radical Discipleship”:

I think my walk with Christ took a step in a more radical direction when I began to live actively in a church community. When the local church really became a family I was committed to, nominalism simply ceased to be a viable option. You can’t walk together with other saints, commit yourself to the cross-carrying “one anothers” of Scripture, and remain a lukewarm disciple.
(HT: Doug Wolter)